In February 2012, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg sent an email to his chief officer, David Ebersman, to forget about buying smaller competitors, including Instagram and Path. ‘These brands are just beginning but the networks established, the brands are already useful, and if they grow to very wide range it could be very disruptive to us’, he noted. Considering that we think our own valuation is fairly aggressive and that we are vulnerable in mobile.
Mark Zuckerberg continued by saying: One way of looking at this is that what we are really chasing is time. Even if some upcoming competitors are springing, buying Instagram, Foursquare, and Path, will give us a year or more to build their dynamics before anyone can make use of them. Within that time, if we focus on the social mechanics they were using, these new products won’t get traction.
These emails between Zuckerberg and Ebersman were recently released during the House antitrust subcommittee’s hearing on antitrust issues in tech, as Rep. Jerry Nadler questioned Zuckerberg about the Instagram acquisition. Facebook revealed that they saw Instagram as a threat that could potentially take business away from Facebook.
Sending a clarification about not preventing companies from competing with Facebook is its own evidence that Zuckerberg knew he had revealed too much, according to the committee. Instagram was hugely popular within Silicon Valley before it was acquired, and Facebook was not the only bidder interested in acquiring it. For some reason, Instagram competed with some aspects of Facebook but also complemented its main features.
“I’ve been clear that Instagram was a competitor in the space of mobile photo-sharing,” Zuckerberg told Congress on Wednesday. There were a lot of them at that time. They competed with apps like VSCO Cam and PicPiz and even Path. And by having them jin us, they certainly went from being a competitor in the space of being a mobile app that we could help grow and to help get more people to be able to use.’ Instagram Can Hurt Us’ Mark Zuckerberg Emails Explains To Disarm Competitors.